MORRISTOWN, NJ - Sky Blue FC, a women’s professional soccer team that plays in the National Women’s Soccer League, has announced that it has signed West Orange-born Maya Hayes to a contract. Hayes was selected sixth overall in the league draft last week.

“It’s an honor in itself to be a part of this league,” Hayes said. “But to be able to come back to New Jersey and play for Sky Blue FC makes this opportunity even more special.”

Hayes started playing soccer when she was seven years old by playing for Montclair Township teams.  A few years later, she began playing travel soccer with the Montclair soccer club. She played on the Montclair Aristocrats, coached by Ashley Hammond, who runs Ashley’s Soccer in Montclair. Also during this time, Hayes played high school soccer for Newark Academy in Livingston.

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By excelling on both teams and in college showcase tournaments, Hayes was offered a scholarship to play at Penn State. Hayes was all-big ten conference three times as well as all-American three times. She was also the big-ten forward of the year in 2011 and 2012. Hayes finished her college career with 71 goals—the third most in Penn State’s history. This was all done on top of a decorated career at Newark Academy that included a state championship and a whopping 92 goals.

Hayes has also shined when playing for her country. She was on the US under-20 team that won the 2012 under-20 World Cup. She is currently on the under-23 team. In the group stage of the tournament, Hayes scored four goals.

Hayes recognizes the stiff competition she is going to be up against. The NWSL is the world’s top league for women’s soccer players, consisting of stars such as Abby Wambach and Hope Solo.

“I wouldn’t say it’s going to be intimidating as much as it’ll be an exciting experience,” Hayes said.  “To be able to compete in practices and games against them every day will challenge me to be better.”

Through a statement made by the team, Sky Blue FC coach Jim Gabarra said, “We are very excited to have signed our first-round pick, Maya Hayes.”